The cannabis industry continues to experience challenges to find sustainable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) solutions for control of the rice root aphid Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominalis. Root aphid apterous females fly/crawl into the foliage at maturity and commonly become stuck in the flower trichomes, where they compromise the quality of the finished product. As these aphids colonize cannabis roots, they are not accessible to soil predators and biocontrol solutions are lacking. To date, few registered products have shown reliable and high levels of activity against this pest. Multiple drench applications of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (BotaniGard, BioWorks Inc.) does slow down their population growth, but results can be variable.
BioWorks and Niagara College have entered into a research collaboration to test various targeted root/soil-treatments for control of this pest. Initial trials have focused on evaluations of efficacy and (potential) phytotoxicity as part of a course-based research project. This is the first step in identifying effective methods to manage this pest and delivering a customized solution for the Canadian cannabis sector.